Well, it is something we have been hearing for a decade now. That, Indians are flying like never before and that with a population of a billion plus, our airlines should technically have been a money-spinner since day one. But there is another side to the story, the ever-in-losses airlines business, and the big guns like AI, Kingfisher and Jet Airwayshave all floundered in their field. Be it ticketing costs, the ever-on-the rise fuel costs, branding, surcharges and a crazy tax rate coupled with not-the-best infrastructure– all of these have affected the airlines performance.
But, let’s not jump to conclusions – as there is always that one kid in the class who solves the problem and shows the way and impresses the teachers and is still friends with everyone in the room because he hasn’t tried to bring anyone down but has just shown how you got to do it right.
That is what IndiGo has exactly done. In the tricky Indian airline market, it has shown the way forward for national and international carriers.
So how has this airline, without all the big branding paraphernalia (like Kingfisher/Air Deccan), experience (like the Air India Group), expertise and standing (like Jet Airways)make its way to the top?Or for that matter- been profitable year-on-year when every other airline have been struggling, slogging and trying to retain their customer bases?
Here is the answer, explained in six simple points.
1. IndiGo has always been prudent with its ad spends – and it has somehow worked. They are never seen as desperate airlines trying to sell you a seat.
2. Have backed up the good word-of-mouth reviews with efficient service. The airline never promised anything extraordinary. An airline experience as plain as vanilla, and that’s not bad at all.
3. They’ve always stuck to one brand of aircrafts in their fleet, one model to be more specific – the Airbus A320 model family. After all, a known devil is better than an unknown angel. So you don’t have to maintain different sets of crews, pilots, ground staff and tech guys - a strategy that worked big time, getting their TATs (turnaround time for aircraft maintenance, refueling etc.), efficiency of the crew and performance of the pilots right. In comparison, an airline like Air India has almost ten different aircraft models in their fleet, each with its own gang of tech guys, pilots and ground staff who are experts with that specific model of Boeing, Airbus, or ATR.
4. Fuel Hedging, The Governmenthas allowed airlines to hedge aviation fuel. Every airline has done this, but IndiGo has done it better and it shows in their financial performance.
5. Fleet Planning. They have planned their fleet in such a way that aircrafts are phased out much before they need to go for a mandatory overhaul and check – which is after 6-8 years approx. Hence, the aircrafts in its fleet are younger and consistently efficient.
6. Route Planning. It isn’t about making a route profitable but it is all about picking a profitable route. Hence, you rarely see IndiGo flying to not-so-popular destinations and at non-prime times.. And, if they have ever added a new route – IndiGo has always picked routes where they could service more than two destinations. So for example, theIndiGoflight fromVizag to Mumbai would go via Hyderabad, and service three destinations in one go.
These are six solid reasons why IndiGo has truly excelled in turbulent times. It is time for the big boys in the gang to try and emulate these strategies.